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20 comments on this post.
  1. L.Owens:

    Growing up in a Midwest family with Origins of german and welch a skiff of snow was used as a light dusting (1″ OR LESS).

  2. KayeM:

    I was pleased to find your article and also the comment left by L.Owens. I’m from eastern Canada and my Maine born husband thought I was crazy – he’d never heard the term “skiff” except as type of small boat.
    “It must be a Canadian thing” was his response. A little internet research showed me the word’s Scottish origins and since the Scots have made their way to many parts of the world including the U.S. it’s obviously not just a “Canadianism”. (Hubby is low on the Scottish blood himself so I will excuse his lack of knowledge). Many thanks!

  3. waxxod:

    If you take a swipe at a football and barely touch it, you’d say you’d skiffed it, at least in the part of East Scotland where I grew up.

  4. Ratatouille and a Gray Winter Day:

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  5. A. Junius:

    Does anyone know the saying that goes “If if were a skiff, we’d be paddling on the river,” or something similar to this?

  6. Jeff W.:

    The way I heard it was, “If if were a skiff, we could hop in and sail away.” That goes back to roughly 40 years ago, so I have no idea where I saw or heard it.

  7. October 26, a skiff of snow « SCB Citizen:

    [...] had to turn to the Word Detective for an answer. “a ‘skiff’ of snow is a light flurry or cover of snow, but you can [...]

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  9. Dot McQueen:

    I’m from Edinburgh in the East Coast of Scotland and talk about a skifter of snow meaning a very light covering. My husband, who is also from Edinburgh, thinks I made it up as he’s never heard the word!!

    And BTW, we have a skifter of snow this morning for the first time this year.


  10. B. Graham:

    YES! I just used the term “skiff” of snow, wondered about its origin, looked it up, and found only the boat definition. I grew up in Iowa and the term was used by everyone. I am glad I found this posting as I was starting to wonder if it was one of those words I had misheard over the years and it really didn’t exist.

  11. K. Wright:

    Vindicated at last! My family always said a “skiff” of snow. We are from Ontario. Like B. Graham’s post above, I began to wonder if I made the word up as a rarely have heard it used other than by me. Thanks for the research.

  12. A Skiff of Snow | Brent Logan:

    [...] Logan A skiff of snow idled on my car this morning. Categories: Photographs Tagged: hillsboro, show Comment [...]

  13. Duane Dowden:

    “Skiff” has been used as a universally understood word since I was very young boy in the 1950′s Upper Midwest – and certainly before my time. It has always been implied as a small amount of snow that mostly blew around and left very little accumulation. It seems a “skiff” had more to do with a small accumulation then behavior.
    My small town South Dakota upbringing was inspired with colorful words and phrases. “Pop” was always the word used for a bottle of flavored soda, like Dr. Pepper. “Ufdah” pronounced oof dah can mean many different things – for me it’s a way of expressing astonishment or I use it in place of a swear word!! “For cripe sake” – probably a safer way of saying for Christ Sake. The list goes on and on. We should thank the midwest for colorful language.

  14. Suzanne gillman:

    Thank you! I used this word to describe yesterday’s snowfall. Husband thought i was mad. My family and our local weathermen always refer to a skiff of snow in Southern Alberta, Canada

  15. elle j:

    I’m a born and raised Albertan and all of these sayings are part of my upbringing

  16. Beth Nace:

    I am a native Oregonian and I have always used skiff for a light dusting of snow. A youngster today questioned my word, so I wanted to look it up and make sure it wasn’t something my family made up. Happy to see other comments.

  17. James Nickerson:

    I think the correct word is “skift”

  18. David Russell Watson:

    The word used for a light snow, rain, or wind is “skift”, not “skiff”, according to Merriam-Webster online.

    See .

  19. Ann Adams:

    My late husband was from NE Tennessee, which was settled by a lot of Scotish/Irish/English, so a lot of their expressions seem to have originated there. The first I ever heard “skiff” was from him, and living in SW Ohio, I seldom hear it used here. I do use it, but people sometimes question what it means. Glad to know it’s a good term! I like it better than “dusting” of snow, and it reminds me of him!

  20. Ed:

    I grew up in SE Ohio and we referred to a light snow as either a “skiff” or as a “skift” of snow. Both expressions were used. SE Ohio also was settled by a lot of Scots/Irish/English, so I guess the Scottish origin of the word makes sense.

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